''He loved people and people loved him.'' Sir Paul Holmes' family put it simply, but perfectly, following his death this morning.
Tributes are pouring in for the broadcasting legend, who died at home surrounded by his loved ones.
Holmes, 62, had been battling heart problems and the return of prostate cancer, which he recently said was more aggressive than before.
His family said in a statement that he died peacefully at home just as he had wanted.
"More than just a broadcaster, Paul was a loving husband and father, as well as a generous friend. He loved people and people loved him."
His wife, Lady Deborah, and children, Millie and Reuben, and brother Ken, thanked the public for their "incredible support", but said they now needed privacy to grieve.
Information on how the public could pay tribute to Holmes would be announced in due course.
Prime Minister John Key said it was the end of a broadcasting era.
"Paul Holmes was a gentleman broadcaster. He conducted his interviews with intelligence and insightfulness, and while he never suffered fools, his interviews were never without kindness and empathy," Key said.
"He was a trailblazer in New Zealand journalism with a style that was all his own.
"I also counted him as a friend and I want to personally acknowledge the pain Deborah, Lady Holmes, Millie and Reuben are now feeling and offer my heartfelt condolences," Key said.
"Paul has been part of New Zealanders' lives since the 1970s... it is hard to imagine a broadcasting spectrum without him.
"It was a privilege to be with him last month as he received his Knighthood for services to broadcasting - I cannot think of anyone who deserved this more. Farewell Sir Paul, you will be missed."
Labour Leader David Shearer also offered his condolences and described Holmes as a passionate New Zealander.
"He had a fine sense of the 'ordinary Kiwi', along with an uncanny understanding of the issues of the day.
"I got to know him a bit more personally in recent years. I saw him as a friend and frequently enjoyed a robust debate with him.
"Paul's contribution to New Zealand's media landscape was significant, and he will be deeply missed."
TVNZ chief executive Kevin Kenrick said Holmes was part of the family.
"Sir Paul had a long and illustrious career with TVNZ and he has many friends here. He's been part of the TVNZ family for so long - from our family to his we extend our deepest sympathy.
"Sir Paul redefined current affairs on New Zealand television for a generation and has been a leading light in the world of journalism in this country.
"His legacy will be remembered within TVNZ and across the industry for many years to come."
TV3's Firstline host Rachel Smalley tweeted: "Gone well before his time. Rest in peace Sir Paul Holmes. You were an icon."
Broadcaster Jason Gunn joined her on the social network, saying: "RIP Sir Paul. The most generous, genuine, caring, funny and talented broadcaster. Thank u dear man for all that you taught me x [sic]."
Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust chairman Murray Bolton said Holmes had been a highly respected and committed board member of the Trust until his resignation in December due to ill health.
"Sir Paul's keen interest in our work and his warm generosity of spirit, were an inspiration to the staff and board of the Trust. We pay tribute to his caring and compassionate nature which led to his involvement in and support of our organisation.
''His presence around our board table will be sorely missed, but his contribution will be remembered for many years to come.
"Our sincere condolences go to Sir Paul's family, to his wife Lady Deborah and those who were especially close to him," Bolton said.
Holmes ended his broadcasting career in November because of poor health and was a late addition to the New Year honours list, being made a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.
He has been suffering for much of the past year from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy - a genetic heart condition that thickens muscles and restricts bloodflow - and from prostate cancer.
Holmes had four hours of open-heart surgery earlier last year in Auckland Hospital, including nearly a week in an induced coma as he recovered.
He was back in hospital in November after he got an infection.
"When you have a few health scares it makes you think and it provides an opportunity for perspective, " he said at the time, as he stepped down from his role as a mainstay presenter for radio station Newstalk ZB.
He headlined TVNZ's flagship Holmes programme until 2004.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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